Nosotros vamos a decidir. That’s the presidential election refrain coming from many American Latinos, a group of voters Michael Scherer explores in TIME's cover story next week. Nearly 9% of all voters in 2012 will be Latino, up 26% from four years ago, according to the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials. That figure will only continue to climb—per the Pew Hispanic Center, one in four children born in the U.S. is Latino, and every month, at least 50,000 Latino citizens turn 18.
TIME contract photographer Marco Grob spent a recent February weekend chronicling Latino voters in Phoenix, Ariz. His portfolio for the magazine is not just comprehensive—it is insightful and deep. The Swiss photographer, who is now based in New York City, previously photographed TIME’s Beyond 9/11: Portraits of Resilience, a multimedia project revealing testimonies of the national tragedy, as well memorable portraits of Lady Gaga and Presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton for 2010's TIME 100 issue.
True to form, Grob captured the essence of each Arizona face with a single camera click. He photographed deacons, dancers and Dreamers; nutrition undergrads, car aficionados and immigration activists; Mexicans, Hondurans and Guatemalans. “There were many unique challenges involved in this shoot," says Grob, who photographed over 150 people on "three days on four different locations including a university, a local restaurant, an outdoor market and a Catholic church. The terms 'Latino' and 'Latina' have a vast identity of their own," he continues, "so for the duration of this project we strove to break some of those stereotypes."
If one sentiment unites these citizens, it is that they believe that their vote matters. TIME asked each person Grob photographed if he or she would vote in the upcoming election. Over and over again, the answer was a resounding yes. Many described voting as the ultimate civic duty. Others drew their determination from SB1070, a controversial immigration bill promoted by Arizona Governor Jan Brewer in 2010, and cited friends and family who cannot vote as their reason for political participation. Overall, they proclaimed that Latinos, more than ever, need to make their voice heard.
Elizabeth Dias is a reporter in TIME’s Washington bureau. Follow her on Twitter @elizabethjdias.